Heart of Darkness By Joseph Conrad


Details: THIS IS A COMPARATIVE ASKING YOU TO DEAL WITH TWO TEXTS. SUPPORT YOUR OBSERVATIONS WITH EVIDENCE FROM THE TEXTS. Both Kipling and Conrad use the same phrase to describe the respective environments of imperial exploitation, whether it be the Congo or Afghanistan. They are called \”the dark places of the earth.\” But what does it mean to be one of \”the dark places of the earth?\” Discuss what those territories share as they make claims on the behavior of the characters in the text.
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Heart of Darkness By Joseph Conrad/The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling


Imperialism exploitation is a theme that spreads throughout both Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Heart of Darkness and Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man who would be King’. Conrad’s novel narrates events that were happening in Congo when Britain was a key figure in colonization and spread of civilization throughout the world. Conrad emphasizes on imperial exploitation on the natives in Congo by the Belgian people. The character Kurtz is found to experience horror as he leads the people in Congo. This way, imperialism seems to dominate the entire theme of the book. Similarly, Rudyard Kipling’s work explores the theme of imperial exploitation whereby the two major characters; Peachy Taliafero Carnehan and Daniel Dravo are explained to apply methods that portrayed the natives of Kafiristan as savage and uncultured to conquer and rule the natives. The aims of the imperialists in both cases are to acquire political power and accumulate wealth. The methods applied by the imperialists to achieve these objectives leave the natives of both Congo and the Afghanistan province of Kafiristan in unbearable environments described as ‘The dark places of the earth’.

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Imperialism is practiced throughout the two novels in similar ways. In Kipling’s novel, Daniel and Peachy are seen to view the people of Kifiristan as savage and uncivilized, they carry the notion that they were to befriend the community and entrench interests of power and wealth. They execute their plans through methods of military might and wit. It is seen where Daniel is telling Peachy that they were not to exert power through battles anymore, but through wits, Peachy continues to develop the theme of imperialism when he responds and says that he will not only win the people but also continue to build an empire. In The Heart of Darkness, the same way, imperialism is developed through the British methods of spreading Christianity, education and civilization. Kurtz and the company are seen to form militant groups that they use to fight defiant communities and exert power, through the military might portrayed in battles, the imperialists acquire power and respect and perceived as gods. The worst case is that they do not use the power to the advantage of the larger society; instead, they use the power and might to develop their personal interests. Kurtz is seen to regret and see horror in his own actions against the natives.

In The Heart of Darkness, imperialism is demonstrated by Kurtz, he is purported to be a talented and a charismatic leader. He leads the natives to other villages in pursuit of ivory. The successes that he achieves for the natives portray him as a god. Kurtz becomes so complaisant that in his mind that he views himself as a god on earth. Actually, the horror that Kurtz talks about in the end is the one of idolatry. Under similar circumstances, Carnehan and Dravot are ultimately seen as possessing unusual powers when they ascertain their power through military might and wits unequal to the natives, in fact Daniel becomes so great to the natives of Kafiristan that they believe he is the son of Alexander the Great. Daniel dominates the minds of the natives to the extent of becoming a king, to many people, Daniel is a god.

Another aspect that portrays imperialism that dwells in the two novels is immorality. Joseph Conrad’s novel, Kurtz who reflects the Belgian leaders’ character in Congo during the 19th century loses morals to his own disbelieve. He expresses the horror of him becoming a monster who disguises to be the messiah and the tribulations and exploitation that they have brought to upon the natives of Congo. Kurtz comes to realize he is no better than the rest of imperialists, to him, the experience of seeing what he has become are horrific. Similarly, Kipling’s novel shows how imperialists lack commitment to their subjects, to standards of justice and to the morals of the societies they rule. Dan’s fate of imperial rulings without moral center falls on him when he decides to marry a girl from the Kafiristan community. Due to the neglect of the authority of the Indian priest in the community, they conspire against him, they advise the girl to bite him instead of kissing him on his wedding day. The spill of blood from his lips annuls the notion that he was a god and this leads to his execution.

Description of imperial exploitation is seen to exhibit horror at the thought of occurrences in the two novels. In the heart of darkness, the reader experiences horror at the imagination of the atrocities that were done against the native Congolese people and their land by the imperial Belgium immigrants, we witness the rape and ruin of a virgin land. The deterioration of men aboard the Nellie on their way up river Congo into mere immoral and primitive creatures is also horrific. In Kinping’s novel, the theme of horror is experienced by the reader when Daniel and Peachy are described in the wars, the blatant killings of the people during the fight against other tribes is horrific. There is also horror at the thought of Daniel being executed by the other people; he is heard telling Peachy to flee from the scene because he knew he was to be killed.

The respective places in Afghanistan and Congo are referred to as ‘the dark places of the earth’. This can be attributed to both the terror inflicted on the natives by the imperialists and that which is inflicted on the imperialists by the natives. The term can also be used by imperialists to demonstrate the areas where civilization had not reached, the term ‘dark’ could be used as a contrast to ‘light’ which in many cases is used to mean adequate knowledge. There seems to be a relationship between the two territories in Afghanistan and Congo as they were to be shown the light by the British people who claimed to have seen the light.

We find imperialists being subjected to mistreatments by the natives in the Afghanistan province of Kafiristan. Here, Daniel and Peachy are subjected to tribulations by the natives when they discover that the King has been mocking them all along. This manifests itself during Daniel’s wedding after bleeding from the bite by the Kafiristian girl, he is put on a rope and killed, his head being taken and shown to his colleague Peachy. Peachy is also seen to be mistreated only that he survives; an occurrence that shocks the people to the level letting him go due to fears that it could be a magic. In The Heart of Darkness, Kurtz, the Company and Marlow survive the atrocities placed on them by the indigenous people as a counter to bad practices they had shown. As they go up river Congo, they are also seen to experience difficulties. All these problems are experienced because of the malpractices that they place on the natives.

Imperialism can also very rampant throughout The Heart of Darkness; Joseph Conrad who is British sets his story based in Congo which was a Belgium colony. This action separates the Britain public from atrocities that were done in by imperialist when in the real sense; the novel represented malpractices done by the entire imperial system. The words used throughout the novel such as ‘nigger’ also exemplify a lot of imperialism from the British colonialists.


The two novels remain to be the best examples of practices of imperialism in the world book, they demonstrate the exact way in which colonialists that went to nations disguised as missionaries and finally ended up colonizing the respective nations. Imperialism is explained to have been taking place amidst claims of spreading Christianity, education and civilization. Imperialists are seen to cunningly penetrate native societies, they help them win battles and solve existing problems. African and Indians in the two novels were seen as primitive beings and people who did not carry any value. This is why they are put through atrocities in their own land and finally ruled over. Imperialism bears bad results as when the subjects realize the motives of the imperialists in both cases, they fight against them making the two places in Afghanistan and Congo the dark places of the world.

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